By Michal Weissberg (’13)

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 10.00.48 PMThis past Friday, I ran the Jerusalem Half Marathon. With my experience and growth as a runner at the Academy, I had no doubt I could succeed if I set a goal and remained consistent in my training. Sure enough, the big day came, and I went out there keeping in mind all of my coaches’ advice. I stayed steady, ran at my own pace and set a PR. I was only able to be successful thanks to my years of running at the Academy.

I have been running since my freshman year of high school, the inaugural year of the cross-country team. I was looking for a way to stay healthy and with my mom serving as coach, I was drawn to the cross-country team.

I started running without much enthusiasm for the sport. However, as I spent more time on the team, my love for running only grew. I gained a lot from the team—I learned to know myself as a runner, I made friends, learned with my “running chavrutas” and even had the opportunity to be a team captain. One of the special things about the cross-country team is that there is more than one way to be successful. It isn’t necessarily about coming in first place. Because in running, while you are part of a team, you are truly competing against yourself. Before each race, Coach Jaffe would remind my teammates and me of the importance of our “PR’s” (personal records) and improving the standard we had set for ourselves in previous runs. After the race was over, the team was most excited for those runners who had improved against their own time, regardless of what that time was.

While working to improve our PRs’, the coaches emphasized that we would only see improvement if we were consistenmichal wt and invested time and effort in our running. This message actualized itself when I saw my race time drop and my running improve after months of attending practice regularly. One of the other elements unique to the cross country team is that it is comprised of boys and girls from all four grades. I was able to form friendships with both older and younger classmates with whom I may otherwise not have had the opportunity to befriend.

And while for many, exercise is a forced activity, I crave going out for runs. I always feel the best and most in tune with myself after a good, long run. I composed college essays, made decisions regarding my future, decided how to respond to a friend and just contemplated life while running.

Many of these elements of the cross-country team have helped me progress in other areas outside of running. This year, I am studying at Migdal Oz, a Beit Midrash program for women located in Gush Etzion. It might sound strange, but I have been able to apply the lessons I learned from running to my Torah learning. When learning Torah, one needs to only compare their learning and skills to their previous PR’s in the Beit Midrash, and not to those of his or her chavruta. Furthermore, the idea that you only get in what you put in could not ring more true than in the walls of the Beit Midrash.

Thanks, Ida Crown!